Category Archives: GLBT fiction

“Disbanded Kingdom” by Poli Loizou— Disconnected

Loizou, Poli. “Disbanded Kingdom”, Cloud Lodge, 2018.

Disconnected

Amos Lassen

Oscar is 22-years-old and just cannot get it together. He spends his days wandering around central London in the hope of finding love, at best and distraction as a substitute. Even though he is gay, he feels disconnected from the gay scene because of his naiveté and his feelings of not belonging anywhere. His life should not be so bad as he lives with his foster mother, the novelist Charlotte Fontaine, in Kensington, an upscale neighborhood. Then suddenly, everything changes when Oscar meets Tim, Charlotte’s thirty-something literary agent. He is immediately smitten and totally infatuated. Oscar needs to struggle to understand Tim’s politics and his rejection of religion yet his developing friendship with Tim brings about a tremendous change him and his eyes and his mind are opened to his desire to in the young man, making him want to understand the world and where he fits in it. I must say that I was reminded of the reaction of young gay boys in rural America who see an urban gay scene for the first time and realize that there are many who are happy with who they are and live free lifestyles.

Before you begin reading make sure that you allow yourself plenty of time because once you begin, you will not want to stop. The story and the writing style pull you in right away and do not let go even after you close the covers. I sometimes feel that Oscar is sitting on my shoulder taking in how I live. There were so many times as I read that I wanted to reach out to him but then I realized that he was only a character in a novel (but, indeed, there are many like him out there). While this is also a social commentary about English gay youth. In effect, Oscar is privileged but cannot seem to find his way— we have all been there. Likewise, like Oscar, we have all experienced unrequited romantic feelings.

Oscar narrates the story and so we see things the way that he does and we feel his depression. It is difficult not to take on he feels and I found myself rooting for him. Even with all the benefits (financial and otherwise), he needs to find a better place.

There are times when it seems that all he cares about is sex but I believe he uses that as a defensive mechanism so that he does not have to deal with his world as it is. Thinking about sex is a way to escape. I hope that this is not the end of Oscar and that we will learn more about him in a sequel. On the other hand, there may not be a sequel and we have to finish Oscar’s story by how we see what is best for him.

30th Annual Lambda Literary Award Winners (2018)

30th Annual Lambda Literary Award Winners (2018)

Lesbian Fiction

Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado, Graywolf Press

Gay Fiction

After the Blue Hour, John Rechy, Grove Press

Bisexual Fiction

The Gift, Barbara Browning, Coffee House Press

Bisexual Nonfiction

Hunger, Roxane Gay, HarperCollins

Transgender Fiction

Transcendent 2: The Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction, Bogi Takács (ed), Lethe Press

LGBTQ Nonfiction

How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Haymarket Books

Transgender Nonfiction

Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity, C. Riley Snorton, University of Minnesota Press

Lesbian Poetry

Rock | Salt | Stone, Rosamond S. King, Nightboat Books

Gay Poetry

While Standing in Line for Death, CA Conrad, Wave Books

Transgender Poetry

recombinant, Ching-In Chen, Kelsey Street Press

Lesbian Mystery

Huntress, A.E. Radley, Heartsome Publishing

Gay Mystery

Night Drop, Marshall Thornton, Kenmore Books

Lesbian Memoir/Biography

The Fact of a Body, Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich, Flatiron Books

Gay Memoir/Biography

Lives of Great Men: Living and Loving as an African Gay Man, Chike Frankie Edozien, Team Angelica Publishing

Lesbian Romance

Tailor-Made, Yolanda Wallace, Bold Strokes Books

Gay Romance

Love and Other Hot Beverages, Laurie Loft, Riptide Publishing

LGBTQ Erotica

His Seed, Steve Berman, Unzipped Books

LGBTQ Anthology

¡Cuéntamelo! Oral Histories by LGBT Latino Immigrants, Juliana Delgado Lopera, Aunt Lute Books

LGBTQ Children’s/Young Adult

Like Water, Rebecca Podos, Balzer + Bray

LGBTQ Drama

The Gulf, Audrey Cefaly, Samuel French

LGBTQ Graphic Novels

My Favorite Thing is Monsters, Emil Ferris, Fantagraphics Books

LGBTQ SF/F/Horror

Autonomous, Annalee Newitz, Tor Books

LGBTQ Studies

Punishing Disease: HIV and the Criminalization of Sickness, Trevor Hoppe, University of California Press

“Love Me Tomorrow” by Ethan Day— Audiobook

Day, Ethan. “Love Me Tomorrow”, Ethan Day Audiobook, 2018, print, 2015.

Finding that Someone (Another Look)

Amos Lassen

About three years ago I reviewed Ethan Day’s “Love Me Tomorrow” and I am not sure why but I was not impressed. Then I got a notice that the audio version had had been released so I got a second chance. Jason Frazier dynamically shares the story of event

Planner Levi Goode who is in line to become the in-demand event planner for the elite of Wilde City. He has worked long and hard and has always wanted to land the account of socialite, Julia Freeman-Kingsley (socialites always seem to have hyphenated names). What had stopped him in the past was that his mother, a very headstrong ex-Vegas-showgirl has been dealing with serious having health problems leaving him little time for himself. Yet he had just managed to land Julia as a client.

Then, by chance, he meets Jake, a paramedic, who comes to take care of his mother and Levi is immediately attracted to him and thanks to his mother, the two go out on a date. What he does not know is that Jake is the brother (albeit estranged) of his new client, Julia. But then he learns that Jake already has a boyfriend and that his hopes will unfortunately remain hopes and all he can do is wish things were different. He knows that he has the change the way he feels if he wants to be friends with Jake and work with Julia and soon finds that handling Julia is an all-time job so everything will simply have to be placed on hold. Now this novel won the Rainbow Award for Best Gay Romantic Comedy so we do not have to hope that things will turn out happy.

I originally wrote that I would have liked a little more information as to why Levi was so excited about meeting and going out with Jake they did have a movie date before Levi learned that Jake was not single). Hearing the story aloud changed that—we can hear in the reading how badly Levi wants to have someone by the intonation of the reader’s voice and we also can sense his disappointment when he finds out that Jake had a boyfriend. Levi was obviously smitten with Jake and later came the surprise that was a surprise Jake’s suddenly becoming single opened the door for Levi to enter.

Day created two very likeable characters in Levi and Jake and because we sense the instant feelings they feel, we want them to come together.

So I now sand corrected on my earlier review. I did state back then that in the past I have enjoyed Day’s books and that he is a fine writer. I don’t know what happened when I originally read “Love Me Tomorrow” but the beauty of being human is that we can change our minds.

“Drapetomania: or, the Narrative of Cyrus Tyler and Abednego Tyler, Lovers” by John R. Gordon— Through the Eyes of a Gay Slave

Gordon, John R. “Drapetomania: or, the Narrative of Cyrus Tyler and Abednego Tyler, Lovers”

, Team Angelica Publishing, 2018.

Through the Eyes of a Gay Slave

Amos Lassen

“Drapetomania” is a very important book in that in the past, we have had the opportunity to read many different African-American slave narratives yet this is the first book to look at slavery from how a gay slave experienced it. John R. Gordon brings us a mesmerizing story with all of the pain that was part of slavery. Even more interesting is that this comes to us from a British writer who totally understands how the system worked and shares his knowledge with us.

For those unfamiliar with the term, drapetomania is “the pathological psychological condition wherein a slave feels compelled to escape his master, however well that master treats him. Recommended treatment for this condition: firm discipline.”

Our story begins when house-servant Abednego is sold away to the South, Cyrus, his lover, is a simple field hand who is broken-hearted and flees the only home he has ever known and runs to the North in the hopes of finding freedom. This, as we know, was not an easy thing to do and he was pursued by dogs and others out to find him and bring him back. Suddenly while in a swamp, Cyrus gets a sign that Abednego is his true North Star, and from that moment he becomes determined to find his lover and save him from slavery.

What a beautiful read this is. John Gordon is not only a fine author but a fine historian as well. He reminds us all too well about the horrors of slavery and even with my having been raised in the southern United States, I was amazed at how much I did not know about the institution.

There are three books within the overall “Drapetomania” and our two main characters, Cyrus and Abednego are narrated to us in the third person. We begin in the mid-19th century, when the rumors of a war between the agricultural South and the industrialized North. Cyrus, and Abednego, two slaves on the same plantation know nothing of the rumors. They have been too busy falling in love. It is this love that pulls the reader into the story and propels it forward.

In the first book we meet and follow Cyrus who has run away from the Tyler estate several months after Abednego has been sold. His goal is freedom and he follows the North Star, all the while being hunted. He has never known real freedom and the only freedom he has ever felt were the tiles he spent with Abednego. Once he understands what freedom really is, he becomes driven by it and he knows that total freedom will come when the two men are together again.

The narrative changes a bit in book 2 with the emphasis shifting to Abednego and we see his point of view. It is set in the period of time between his having been sold and Cyrus’ escape. Yet this is a love story and that remains at the center of everything. Cyrus really grows in book 2 but he has to since he is on his own. The relationship between the two men shows the difference in other minor themes of facing war, dependability and morality and of course, race.

As might be expected religion plays an important part in the story. Because the slaves had nowhere to turn, they turned to God and by some internal mechanism, they found resilience and managed to stay alive under the harshest of conditions. (On the other hand I have to wonder what kind of God allows for slavery or something like the Holocaust to exist?).

Cyrus and Abednego worked hard to get to the end of their journey, the subject of book 3. This is quite an emotional read especially for me as a white man and I can only imagine how it would affect a black man. This is a story of perseverance and a look to what is better than the present life. The battle begun in this book has not yet been won and we can only learn from reads like these.

John R Gordon’s has written an “epic and exciting tale of black freedom, uprising, and a radical representation of romantic love between black men in slavery times.” As far as I could ascertain, this is the first novel to explore this experience through the eyes of a gay slave.  Gordon has begun to fill a huge void wit his wonderful book. I must simply quote the next sentences because they say so much: Gordon “tells the compelling story of two men whose love for each other re-imagines the erotic contours of what was possible under the whip and scrutiny of catastrophic bondage.

Here is a story of love so powerful, so achingly present, it dares to consider not just the past but the future, as vital to freedom; and in doing so, defies any notion of the black enslaved body as an ugly, unpalatable thing, unworthy of the sweetness of love. Gordon’s novel enters the company of such classic works as Edward P. Jones’s The Known World, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, and Barry Unsworth’s Sacred Hunger. We will be reading and talking about this extraordinary novel for years to come.”

– Alexis De Veaux, (author, Yabo and Sister Outsider: A Biography of Audre Lorde)

“Prodigal Children in the House of G-d” by Yermiyahu Ahron Taub— A Personal Book, A Personal Review

Taub, Yermiyahu Ahron. “Prodigal Children in the House of G-d”, Austin Macauley Publishing, 2018.

A Personal Book, A Personal Review

Amos Lassen

Every few years, a book comes along that represents so much of my own personal feelings that it becomes one of those special volumes that sit on my desk so that I can refer to it often. This is such a book but it is even more than that—it is a symbol of friendship that grew out of my respect for Yermiyahu Ahron Taub’s writing. First and foremost, Taub is a poet who I first met through his poetry as I slowly moved through his first four books. Then about four years ago he came to Boston for the Massachusetts Poetry Festival and I not only had the chance to meet him and hear him read but he read at my Temple and wowed the congregants. Two more books of poetry came, one in Yiddish and then there was a translation of stories from Yiddish to English and now this collection of ten short stories.

“Prodigal Children in the House of G-d” is an exploration that takes us into the themes of family, community, and exile largely from ultra-Orthodox Jewish and/or queer perspectives (with that sentence, some of you already understand why this book is so important to me). There are no specific locations in the stories thus making them truly universal as they can be set anywhere. They are set in the present, or perhaps the past or the future—it does not matter. What does matter is how the characters deal with religious tradition as they take steps to reshape their lives and, in many cases, do so at great personal risk. We meet an elderly woman who lives alone and reflects on a love from long ago; we read of a trip that changes a mother and daughter forever and of a married Torah scholar who comes upon romance in an unexpected place.

As in traditional Orthodox Judaism the stories are separated by gender; there are five stories of daughters, five of sons yet they come together in amazing ways thus showing the oneness of both the Jewish and “other” communities. We sense the love with which Taub created his characters, they are part of the gentleness and sensitivity of the author himself and it would not surprise me to learn that the characters are different aspects of his own life. Like so many of us (and I do not mean just those who grew up in traditional Jewish homes), the characters question the lives they have inherited or chosen. Some have made good choices and others not so good. All of them are on journeys. 

With a background in poetry, it is no surprise that Taub’s prose is lyrical with each word carefully chosen. It is amazing to read what he is able to share in just a few words and/or sentences. 

In each story we have a look at a lonely soul dealing with the demands of ultra-Orthodox or other conservative tradition.  They are lesbians, heterosexuals, gay men and they struggle to live on their own terms. Taub uses a bit of psychological insight into the minds of his created characters and I was reminded of the way that Aviva Zornberg looks at Torah. There is always more than meets the eye. We are all aware of the gaps in the way parents see faith and in the way their children do but here it is sweet and tender. We see courage and we see love and respect but more than anything else we see the beauty of life and the beauty of words on a page. I debated with myself as I wrote this review whether or not to summarize each story but I realized that this would be a disservice to those who have yet to read them. Let me say that not only was I moved by what I read but I was also led to think about how others have dealt with the same issues that I dealt with and the place of religion, God and faith in my life. (A note on the spelling of the name G-d—many feel that we should only use the full name in prayer, hence the middle letter is deleted when not at prayer. I did this for many years but I no longer feel the need to do so since I have established my own relationship with the Divine).

Do not think that once you have finished reading the book that your relationship with the characters is over. They will stay with you. I read this over a month ago and I think about it every day. What I really found to be amazing is that everyone, regardless of religion and/or faith, will have something of him/herself here.

*A note on transliteration and pronunciation and a glossary of Hebrew and Yiddish terms appear at the end of the book. The book includes two pairs of interlocking stories.

“Wake Me When It’s Over” by Cheryl A. Head— WOW!!!

Head, Cheryl A. “Wake Me When It’s Over”, (A Charlie Mack Motown Mystery), Bywater Books, 2018.

WOW!!!!!

Amos Lassen

Let me start with two facts about me. The first is that I do not remember ever having written a review that I entitled simply “Wow!”. The second is that I am not a mystery reader. It is therefore safe to assume that there is something special bout Cheryl Head’s “Wake Me When It’s Over”. But then this book is published by the fine literary ladies of Bywater Books and I should not have expected any less.

Charlie (Charlene) Mack is a respected and fine private investigator in her hometown of Detroit and she has worked hard to make sure that she stays on top. Of course, it helps that she is ambitious. When she and her team are given the chance to take on a case that seems to be impossible, she does not waver. Charlie and her investigators are to both identify those involved in and to stop an attack on the upcoming Detroit Auto Show, the largest auto show in the world.

Mack, and her team of investigators begin immediately preparing for what they have to do. The Auto Show brings hundreds of millions of dollars into the local economy and this year it is to be followed by Super Bowl XL which Detroit will host the following month. Charlie gets the job just nine days before thousands of journalists and reporters will come to Detroit. Charlie knows people in positions of political leadership as well as titans of business and those that influence them and power brokers and with that insider knowledge plus the incentive of $100,000, she is more than sure she can handle the case. Besides Homeland Security is working with her. It did not take long before Charlie’s team to find the plot that involves several foreign countries and many bank accounts. By learning who is behind it all is only half the problem— there are dozens of hidden bombs that must be found before they go off.

Granted, what is written here sounds exciting but when you read it in Cheryl Head’s words, you will find it much more exciting. It did not take long for me to be sucked into the narrative and once there, there was no way that I would stop reading until I finished the novel. Even then, I wanted more. Once Charlie and her team had solved the auto show threat, they become drawn into a more dangerous game as they attempt to find the bombs that have been hidden and could destroy thousands of people. We have a large cast of characters and a complex situation yet everything falls into place.

After I finished reading this, I went back to look at my review of Head’s “Bury Me When I’m Dead”, her first Charlie Mack mystery and I was surprised to see that my feelings had not changed and that in effect this review and that review are very much alike. Consistency here makes perfection it perfection indeed exists and Cheryl Head is proof of that.

“In Development” by Rachel Spangler— Changes

Spangler, Rachel. “In Development”, Brisk Press, 2018.

Changes

Amos Lassen

Cobie Galloway is a film actress whose career had been based upon her playing the girl-next-door on the silver screen. Now that chronologically she is no longer a teen, she feels that she is ready to play mature roles and to do so she realizes that she must appear “edgier” both on the screen and away from it. Lila Wilder is a pop star who is creative and has built a multimedia empire by always knowing what’s hot. Like Cobie, she stands at the door of change now that she is having difficulties keeping her name in the public eye. She is very aware that her love life that had once appeared all over the news is no longer of interest to the masses. (Oh, the troubles of the young and the beautiful).

Cobie and Lila agree to a headline-grabbing “fauxmance” and there are two simple rules that they must always follow— always play by the script and remember that in terms of public perception, nothing is as it seems. Now we have two women looking for love in a world of illusions created by others. Cobie feels that she has been America’s sweetheart for way too long and she really wants to play a liberated lesbian but that requires a complete makeover and a girlfriend. She thinks of Lila who is independent and does what she feels.

Basically, I see this as a story of the search for true happiness and loving, meaningful relationships. While we really never get to know how the two main characters really feel, we do read about their fears and emotions and see that just like everyone else, their lives are filled with contradictions.

It took a while to get into the novel but that is because writer Rachel Spangler spent time building up our characters who truly dominate the story that is written from both Cobie’s and Lila’s points of view. If she had not done this, I doubt the story would have been as successful as it is. And while writing about the author’s craft in character development, I must add that her prose is lyrical as it holds everything together. Little by little, the two women share of themselves with the reader but just enough to keep us guessing. They share amazing chemistry yet both are able to say and do how they feel. Because we get the back-story of the two, we really feel that we understand them even while they go through overhauling their images.

I do realize that I said earlier that we never really know how the two women feel and this might sound contradictory but once you read this you will understand. You will also notice that I have not spent much time on the plot and this is simply because I did not want to give anything away and hurt a wonderful read for others. All that you need in a good romantic novel is here yet adding your own imagination to it makes it that much better.

“Being Emily” by Rachel Gold— “You Weren’t Born That Way”

 

Gold, Rachel. “Being Emily”, Bella Books, 2012, rerelease, 2018.

“You Weren’t Born That Way”

Amos Lassen

Rachel Gold ‘s “Being Emily” is the first young adult novel about a transgender girl told from her own perspective. It was first published in 2012 and since that time, the trans community has made significant strides forward but has also been attacked by the current presidential administration. Both the author and the publishing house feel that this is such an important and crucial time that they have decided to rerelease “Being Emily”. It has also been updated. The novel was originally set in 2008 so this new edition has an epilogue that is set in 2018, ten years later. The new edition is also 25% longer than the original and the language has been updated as has been science; there is a new introduction by Harvard professor Stephanie Burt; there are new scenes and along with the new epilogue is a note from Rachel Gold.

Emily is a sixteen-year-old trans girl coming out in rural Minnesota and we are with her through her conflicts with her parents and her therapist (who thinks he can cure her) and as she tries to keep her friendship with her Christian girlfriend. Emily was

born Christopher “and her insides know that her outsides are all wrong.” The “It Gets Better” campaign does not work for Emily and telling her parents who she really feels she is gets her sent into therapy with a doctor who insists Christopher is normal and Emily is sick. Telling her girlfriend means lectures about how God doesn’t make mistakes like this. Emily wants it all to get better; she simply wants to be who she is. But nothing good happens until a substitute therapist and a girl named Natalie come into her life and she finally is able to think that she can really be Emily.

Wow… this story really spoke to me. For years I have been trying to understand my trans nephew who I had only known as my niece since I had been away for most of his life and hadn’t seen him for years before his transition. Most of the family was fine except for the gay uncle who slowly has come to understand.

“Being Emily” is a “story for anyone who has ever felt that the inside and outside don’t match and no one else will understand”. It is a beautifully written story with very real and deep characters that holds the readers’ interest with every carefully chosen word in its text. Emily is so likeable and even when she is still Chris, she wins us over. Chris is an athlete on the swimming team who really wants to tell his girlfriend that he is really a girl inside but is afraid to do so because his girlfriend is so Christian. As Emily, Chris realizes that his whole life is fake and phony and the only time that she is real is before everyone wakes up and Emily dresses as a girl while exploring a trans website. (Imagine how it was before computers).

Claire, the girlfriend, is a very complex, interesting, and likeable character. She is a Goth girl with a secret and that is that she is a religious Christian. She uses Christianity to better understand and to be more understanding of people but she does not influence belief.

The story became very touching for me when Emily went to her first session with a new therapist, who gets her to say that she is transgender, and then asks her what name she calls herself. We see Emily put down her guard and open up and as she does, the tears from my eyes flowed. (I’m a sensitive guy).

From this point non we see that the more that Emily gets to live as her real self, the happier she is. Her parents were not supportive and certainly not accepting but they gave Emily what she needed and I found this to be very moving.

We see multiple trans girl characters supporting each other and this is heartwarming. It is also heart wrenching to read about the reality of the scenes and emotions but we must be aware of these. I believe the real beauty of “Being Emily” is that it offers hope and love. This is really a book about being who you are and we all need to read it. As you can imagine and probably even see here, I had troubles with pronouns but I am getting better. Boston has a very large and active trans population and it is different from having lived in Arkansas where you can imagine how this would be received.

Reading this was quite an experience and I must admit I am a bit flustered and having a hard time write because of the emotions that are going on in me right now. I believe that will happen every time I think about this book and that is a good thing. All of the rest of you really need to read “Being Emily” since it is really about being yourself.

“The Talebearer” by Sheri Lewis Wohl— The Aftermath of a Shooting

Wohl, Sheri Lewis. “The Talebearer”, Bold Strokes Books, 2018.

The Aftermath of a Shooting

Amos Lassen

“The Talebearer” defies genre classification since it mixes mystery, recovery, perseverance, psychic ability and PTSD. After being shot, Elizabeth Boone has PTSD and now has protective dog Attila, a German Shepherd. Liz also has some very close supportive friends but she is having a great deal of trouble trusting herself and what she can do. When she meets Willow Blue, a kindred spirit who is also victim of a violent crime, the two form a strong connection. Somewhat by surprise, Liz begins drawing pictures of deceased women and their final resting places and she knows that the person who shot her is still out there and still killing.

Liz is haunted by visions that she and Willow understand are the faces of the dead and of the killer who took their lives. As one by one the murdered are found, a stranger works to stop Liz before the serial killer is brought to justice. I realize that this introduction may not make a lot of sense to those who have not yet read the book but everything eventually falls into place.

When she starts having visions of a woman that has been missing for years, Liz realizes either she’s crazy or something unbelievable is going on. With a serial killer on the loose, Liz is about to find out if her visions have come to her as a gift or as a curse.

While we might see Willow as a love interest for Liz, this is not a romance in the true sense. The two women who are attracted to each other and start a connection but that is it. Besides, a serial killer is out there and that is the primary focus.

This is the first book I’ve read by Sheri Lewis Wohl so I had no expectations. As a crime story, it is a good read that had me turning pages quickly but I am not a reader of or a believer in the paranormal so those parts of the novel were a stretch for me. The book is well written and the characters are well-developed. This is a book that will find its audience quickly.

“A Tiny Piece of Something Greater” by Jude Sierra— Navigating Love and Mental Illness

Sierra, Jude. “A Tiny Piece of Something Greater”, interlude, 2018.

Navigating Love and Mental Illness

Amos Lassen

I usually do not look at other reviews before I sit down to write my own but for some reason I took a look at the Goodreads page of this book and found twelve reviews all written by females. This struck me as odd for a M/M romance but then we never know who our readers are.

Jude Sierra introduces us to Reid Watsford, a young man who has a lot of secrets and a past he can’t leave behind. While staying at his grandmother’s condo in Key Largo, he decides that he wants to learn to s scuba dive so he signs up for introductory classes and there he meets Joaquim Oliveira, a Brazilian dive instructor. The two men are instantly drawn to one another and what might have been just a casual roll in the sack, becomes much more. As their relationship becomes more serious, they both have to deal with the challenges of Reid’s mental illness, separately and together.

Reid’s illness allows him to cope but he does not have the ability to feel what he thinks is “normal”.He has mood swings that vary from depression to almost euphoria and he has suffered with then his entire 20 years of life. He has been through therapy and taken medication and has come to understand that some people are toxic to him. This is why he is staying at his grandmother’s house in Florida. Home in Wisconsin was not good for him.

Because he had nothing to do, he decided to take a SCUBA course and there he meets Joaquim. But then his former boyfriend shows up uninvited and the fact that he is able to tell him to go away shows that he is progressing in taking care of himself.

Joaquim is a Brazilian doing an internship far from his home and hoping to find permanent work in Florida. When he is unable to get a job, he decides to go back home to visit his family which is the opposite of what Reid might do in the same situation. Reid is almost OCD. He keeps his home clean and orderly and in order to function, he must have a plan while Joaquim prefers to go on instinct and sees what happens. The two have their ups and downs but are able to be together.

Jude Sierra does a wonderful job building the relationship between Reid and Joaquim. They take time to get to know one another and to care for each other. Joaquim learns to understand and respect Reid’s boundaries without letting go of his own. This is a love story that is not as much about love as it is about the characters and learning to be an adult (and deal with mental illness).